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The Shieldmaiden Blog

Sep - 13

Follow-up: “Whose Ancestors?”

EDIT: 9/11/2013 5:00 pm – As of now, just a few hours after posting this, I’ve been kicked off the PaganSquare site and my blog deleted.


This is a follow up to my last post, “Whose Ancestors?“, published on 8/29/2013. The post was also published at my PaganSquare blog, The Spear That Cries Out, hosted by Witches & Pagans online. It was subsequently deleted by the site’s editor, Anne Newkirk Niven, specifically in order to censor its content, because she objected to my calling the AFA a racist organization. The following is my response to that censorship, and I’ve also posted it on the PaganSquare site. Since it too is likely to be deleted, I am publishing it here as well. I wanted to let readers know what happened with that post, and what you can expect in the future.

The post in question, “Whose Ancestors?”, was one in which I challenged the doctrine of racial separatism in religion espoused by some European polytheist traditions, primarily Heathens of the ‘folkish’ variety. In it, I called the AFA an unashamedly racist organization. I firmly believe this to be true, and when Anne Newkirk Niven, the editor of this site, asked me to remove the language in which I called the AFA racist, I refused to do so. Instead, I provided her with evidence as to the facts showing that the AFA is a racist organization. Since I would not edit the post to remove that language, Anne has deleted my post in order to censor it.

You can read the original post here, where it is still hosted on my own blog site.

Here is the evidence I presented to Anne, which I believe amply demonstrates that the racism critique of the AFA is factual:

The AFA is a racist organization. Perhaps you’d like to review the UN’s definition: the term “racial discrimination” shall mean any distinction, exclusion, restriction, or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin that has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.

Thus, since the AFA discriminates based on race as to who can and should claim religious affiliation, they are by definition a racist organization. They also promote, clearly and in public on their website, racial separatism in religion, which is a form of segregationism. See their declaration of purpose, their article on “folkish” ideology, and this charming piece of racist screed from their website.
I invite you to have a look around on the web – you will find that there are many, many sites which discuss the AFA’s racist ideologies and links to white supremacist groups. Such as here, and here. And here from the Southern Poverty Law Center. And here, from fellow Heathens who recognize the AFA as racist.
It does not matter that they SAY they are not racist. News flash: racists generally don’t go around calling themselves racists.


I have to expect that this present post will be deleted and censored on PaganSquare as well, since I am continuing to maintain that the AFA is a racist organization. If that does happen, I will very likely be discontinuing my publishing on PaganSquare, since I will not stand for editorial censorship defending racists and racist ideologies. If you’re interested in continuing to read my work, I invite you to follow my blog direct here on my website.

You may also be interested in this insightful post on the issue by Sam Webster, also hosted on PaganSquare, at least for the time being. Should the editor end up censoring this post also, here is Sam’s post on his own website as well.

I continue to hold the firm position that we must not condone, cover up for, or otherwise tolerate racism within Pagan and polytheist traditions. Those who do so are standing on the wrong side of history, and will inevitably be seen for who they are, in the same way we now recognize as racist those who once defended segregation in our society. I challenge all of you to join me in standing against racism in our communities.

20 comments on Follow-up: “Whose Ancestors?”

  1. Bryant says:

    As far as Folkish Heathenry goes, and also the AFA, I would pose the question as to why you don’t have a problem with many Native American (or many other cultural religions for that matter) tribes who view their spirituality as sacred to their own people? Is it acceptable to cheer other groups for preserving their ancestral history, as long as their not of a Northern European culture? That, in my view, would make you racist.

    The ideas behind most Folkish Heathens, tends to be more on the importance of community and family and that goes along with ancestors and being proud of who you are. There’s also a belief that no matter what your culture, you should be proud of it. It doesn’t mean one is better than the other, or that we can’t work together. In fact, our ancestors worked and even adopted other things (crucible steel for example) from other cultures and made those things their own. It’s also in most Folkish ideas that you’re a free person, therefore, no one can make you not worship the Aesir, Vanir, Jotuns, or anything else for that matter. It’s just not understood as to why you would want to, when if your culture is different, you have ties to that, and it’s important for you to be proud of that culture.

    I find that the Universalist side is just as “racist” as you claim Folkish Heathenry is. People spend more time making generalizations, than they spend taking care of everyday matters with helping others, being productive, spending time with family, etc. Censorship does suck, and I’m always up for hearing a point of view different from my own. So I am sorry that your post was censored.

  2. Rory says:

    Well, transparently and bravely played. Thank you.

  3. Elinor says:

    This is all kinds of angering. I am just glad that you and Sam have your posts safely on your own blogs, as well as at Pagan Square.

  4. HunterMoon says:

    I’m guessing you don’t realize that the UN convention applies to states parties to the convention and not to individuals. I also guessing that you don’t understand the significance of that distinction. I’m also guessing that you don’t understand what the phrase “in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life” means or why it doesn’t apply to the AFA under the UN Convention.

    It’s fine to express your moral outrage at the AFA for what you perceive as “racism.” The AFA obviously disagrees. But when you attempt to make a legal argument, you better know what you are talking about, because the words in legal documents have actual, technical meanings–like programming code–and the extrapolations you are making are not warranted.

    1. Foregone says:

      I believe Morpheus was using the ICERD definition of racism because it is generally accepted, since no definitive meaning can be agreed upon. I have serious doubts that she was calling for the wrath of CERD to be brought against AFA for their ideologies because as you pointed out it applies only to members of the convention.

      In case someone were to wonder, the US does not recognize competence under Article 14, however, the Northern European nations do recognize competence under said article.

    2. Elinor says:

      Congratulations. You have missed the point of Morpheus’ post entirely.

    3. Morpheus says:

      Hunter, thanks for your comment. Let me clarify for you, since you seem quite confused by my post. I’m not making any legal arguments or implying that there’s some kind of case for UN action. That would be quite silly. My point was simply to demonstrate that the AFA’s position and policies fit widely accepted definitions of racism, by using the UN definition as an example.

      1. Hunter Moon says:

        Let’s quote from TFA:

        “Here is the evidence I presented to Anne, which I believe amply demonstrates that the racism critique of the AFA is factual:

        The AFA is a racist organization. Perhaps you’d like to review the UN’s definition: the term “racial discrimination” shall mean…

        Thus, since the AFA discriminates based on race as to who can and should claim religious affiliation, they are by definition a racist organization.”

        The problem is, even if the AFA were an un-abashedly discriminatory organization, it would not fit the UN definition because under the UN definition only state actors can engage in “racial discrimination” (which, by the way, is related to, but not synonymous with, “racism”).

        Pulling a definition from a statute or a treaty, suggests you are attempting to make a legal argument (a conclusion further supported by your use of the phrases “evidence I presented” and “by definition”). Why not just use a simple dictionary definition like “the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, esp. so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races” from the Oxford American Dictionary?

        Not that there is anything wrong with making a legal argument, but when you do, you need to step up your game.

        Now, let’s explore the notions presented in your article a little further. Would you say that American Indian tribes engage in racism because they actually require proof of blood quantum to be members? Are the Lakota racist for not allowing non-natives to participate in the sundance? Are orthodox Jews racist because they only marry other orthodox Jews? Are Catholics racist for not administering the sacrament to non-Catholics?

        1. Morpheus says:

          Hunter, in answer to your questions. The example of Native American tribes is always among the first to be trotted out by defenders of racism. In fact, blood quantum is not a Native custom, nor has it ever been – it was introduced by the US Government as a means for determining which persons could be registered within recognized tribes. And in fact the effect of the blood quantum standards have been to fragment, diminish, and further marginalize many tribes, especially those with higher quanta.

          As I’ve said before, it is never racist for any cultural group to require that participants must have a shared experience. For some, especially in the case of peoples whose experience is one of deep oppression, such as Reservation life, it is entirely appropriate for them to say, “If you haven’t lived our life, you can’t understand our traditions.” The Sundance is an outgrowth of that very specific Native experience. I would venture to say that in most cases, what most Native people care about is actually that shared experience, not what DNA you carry.

          Further, the situation differs completely for people like the Lakota. You cannot usefully compare the situation of an ethnicity like white European-descended Americans, who dominate demographically, culturally, and socially, with the situation of fragmented and disappearing Native tribes who are at risk of no longer existing as a cultural and ethnic group. Stephen McNallen and his ilk are not under that threat. The defensiveness of white Euro-Americans is entirely born of bigotry.

          Jews may become Jews by conversion, regardless of what race they come from, as may Catholics. Even in the most orthodox and conservative of sects in both religions, there are processes in place to allow this, however rigorous. Thus those examples only serve to undermine your stance.

    4. Ruadhán says:

      So… considering that the ICERD definition of “racism” is the one most-accepted by people, even if for UN purposes, no, it doesn’t apply to the private sector, pray tell, what other definition of “racism” should she have used? Considering the stigma that overt racism currently has in the public consciousness (even though more casual offenses of racism seem to get an alarming amount of pass, even in the year 2013), defining a private-sector organisation to be “racist” only if they identify themselves as such is just preposterous. By that accord, the KKK isn’t “racist”, either, since they don’t claim to be.

  5. Russell Erwin says:

    I enjoyed this post recently about Folkish vs Tribalist vs Universalist approaches. It seems well balance with good points to offer.

    1. Morpheus says:

      So did I – I think one of this author’s articles is included in the links I shared with Anne to demonstrate the public recognition of the AFA’s racism.

  6. John Beckett says:

    I’m really disappointed in W&P. Your evidence to back up your opinion is strong and thus your post is clearly not libelous. I’m all for diplomacy and getting along with people who have different views, but there are some things that simply can’t be tolerated – exclusion on the basis of race is one of them.

    Keep up the good work.

    1. Morpheus says:

      Thanks, John! I agree, the notion of a libel claim is fairly silly in this instance.

      1. Ruadhán says:

        I guess *technically* someone can claim libel over just about anything, it’s whether or not the claim has a legal leg to stand on. As you’ve evidenced, it doesn’t, in this case.

        I suppose it’s possible that some AFA people might have lawyers who might push this as far as they could, and PaganSquare doesn’t want to deal with that possibility, no matter how minute. It still just feels kind of skeevy, to me, that the fear of potential legal issues in the future would be enough to let this clear elephant in the room get a pass.

    2. Ruadhán says:

      I agree completely, and as a PaganSquare blogger and SHARP*, myself, I’m seriously considering resigning. As a traditional polytheist, myself (Hellenismos rather than Heathenry), the topic of racism and neo-nazis is the elephant in the room that everyone wants to pretend isn’t there, but it IS, and it’s glaringly obvious to so many people that I’m kind of amazed that the various traditional polytheist communities haven’t imploded on themselves already.

      *technically, I’m closer to the “Mod” end of the Mod and Skinhead spectrum, but I have been involved with SHARP events, in spite of the long hair.

  7. Niki says:

    Well said, Morpheus. I am surprised that anyone would hesitate to call such a spade a spade in the face of the evidence you presented. It is a shame that W&P is stifling such important and necessary discussion in the wider community.

  8. Lon Sarver says:


    The sad thing is that the editor at Pagan Square need not be a racist herself, merely a publisher in a niche market who places avoidance of controversy over confrontation with problems. Fear of loss of an already relatively small audience can inspire publishers to make bad decisions.

    This is not to excuse the deletion. It’s to point out that fear of retaliation is something that keeps people from acting. We need to support each other in opposing racism, and other problems, in our community. Folks need to know that we have their backs when they speak out.

    So, in case it’s not obvious, I got yer back, if you need me.

    1. Morpheus says:

      Thanks, Lon. I agree, I don’t think that Anne is herself a racist or even particularly sympathetic to the Folkish/racist view. I think she began this in the belief that she was protecting freedom of speech for all views on W&P, and then became scared by rumors of libel claims from AFA-connected writers, and that fear is why she has resorted to censoring my blog. Leadership involves risk-taking. That’s what isn’t happening here.

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